So I did my first duathlon on Sunday and it was pretty tough. Me and my Dad both entered the Oulton Park Duathlon a couple of months ago thinking it would be a good way to keep me motivated on my bike that I got for my birthday. Before the race I was feeling pretty good about the duathlon. I’d been keeping up with my running with Chorlton runners and going to the gym a couple of times a week so felt pretty fit for it. I had been out on my bike about six or seven times since I got it at the end of July. This however, turned out not to be enough to get me around the nine laps with ease.
I was quite familiar with the Oulton Park race track after doing my first half marathon there back in February as part of my Manchester marathon training. When me and Dad arrived in his pick-up with our bikes in the back it was about three minutes after getting out of the car that we realised that there weren’t many average joe duathletes present apart from ourselves. People in triathlon club hoodies with team GB on their back sailed passed us and people pushing their crazy looking filled in wheel, weird handlebar bikes also went past I began to realise there were a lot of serious people here. There was a sprint distance event taking place that morning which was finishing as we arrived so we went to watch people cross the finish line and there were loads of fit looking people, looking exhausted.
As we signed in and filled in the relevant forms, we told ourselves just to enjoy it, it’s our first duathlon we’ll aim just to get around in one piece. After debating which leg to put our numbered tattoos on, putting our other tattoos on our arms, timing tag on our left leg, pinning two numbers to our shirts, putting one sticker on our helmets and another on our bikes, we waiting for the sprint athletes to clear their bikes from the transition zone so we could set up. Once that was done it was pretty much time to start.
We had a briefing on the rules of drafting and were told how it was a qualifying race for the European Triathlon Union which I hadn’t realised. So we set off at a pace that felt similar to my weekly Chorlton runners pace which is around 9 minute miles. I was a bit conscious that we may have been going too quick to start off with but as everyone else seemed to be sailing around their first lap I felt like we should at least attempt to keep up. The first two laps were pretty easy and then it was time for our first transition onto the bikes so we swapped trainers into our cycling shoes, clipped in and tried not to cause a collision with the other cyclists who were already probably on their fourth lap.
Within a few minutes of being on the bike it was obvious that Dad was going to be a fair bit quicker than me. As there were so many rules about drafting we weren’t allowed to cycle together so Dad went ahead but before long he was out of sight (his defense was it was getting dangerous because he kept looking over his shoulder to see where I was, but he could still see me across the track as he was going along). So I was out on my own doing my first lap. I was getting over taken left right and centre and concentrating on staying out of the way of everyone whizzing past. It was quite enjoyable watching all these really fast people going along until I got to the end of my first lap and I saw a girl had fallen of her bike and was lying face first on the grass at the side of the track not moving. She had obviously come of her bike at some speed and looked like she was out cold and with paramedics. As I was still a bit of a novice on the bike with clipped in shoes this freaked me out slightly and after that I decided I was going to take my time and get around in one piece.
A few laps passed, slowly, and I couldn’t believe how tough I was finding the cycling. The hills were tough and even my lowest gear felt like it could only just get me up them. My Dad graced me with his presence on my seventh lap when he was on his eighth (I had bit of a go at him then told him I would’ve done the same and told him I would see him at the end and to go on without me) then I began to see people beginning their last lap of running and the cyclists began to thin out.
After what felt like forever I was finally on my last lap and after seeing Dad starting his last running lap a steward asked me if I was on my last lap and he looked pleased when I said I was, I’m guessing he wanted to go home. There were a couple of other people cycling around with me but not many. Once I got into the transition zone for the second time lots of people had finished and were collecting their gear to take home. I came running in with my bike changed shoes and headed out again. A couple of people were slow to realise that I was still yet to finish and after a few encouraging cheers from them I went out to do my last lap. I picked up some water from the water station, even though there was no one left manning the water station and thought if I put one foot in front of the other enough times this will soon be over.
Heading out on the track for my final lap literally was like no mans land. For a while I couldn’t see anyone running and was beginning to think I can’t be the only one left. I eventually saw a guy who was running/walking further ahead of me but he looked like he was struggling with cramp. I caught up with him and offered some of my water and tried to convince him to carry on with me for the last leg but he was having problems with his knee and decided to throw in the towel with only a couple of miles to go which was a shame. I finally got around the last lap and the run felt easier than the bike ride towards the end.
Dad was waiting for me at the finish line and I finally managed to finish which I was pleased with as at one point 10% of me felt like giving up. I was never really considering stopping but it did make me push myself which I didn’t really felt like I had done properly since the marathon. Compared to Dad’s several years on the bike to my couple of months it was clear that I could have done with more training on the bike.
Thoughts from this week:
- It’s gotten really cold all of a sudden
- Got tickets for Glastonbury 2015 wahoo
- Dreamt I saw the Foo Fighters play a gig in my old school’s sports hall last night
- Not looking forward to another winter in the freezing flat
- Hitting Aldi on Thursday for cheap running gear